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Today we will go over Chapter 2; we are reading one chapter a week.

I encourage this to be slow blogging - the very opposite of "breaking".  I will leave this on my hot list for a week, so comment any time during the week.

When we get near the end of GGS, I'll start a poll for the next book

Ground rules: I expect vigorous discussion.  But I expect civil discussion.  A sign I saw in a restaurant said

Be nice or leave

If you want to have a flame war, go elsewhere, please.

Chapter 3, the last chapter in Part 1, finishes setting the stage for the main theme of the book by telling of a particularly extreme example of the meeting of two cultures: That of Spain and the Incas at Cajamarca in 1532.

At this meeting, a few hundred (possibly fewer) Spaniards managed to massacre tens of thousands of Indians, capture their king, extort a huge ransom, and renege on the deal, while losing none of their own lives.  At this meeting, guns were relatively unimportant, as the Spanish guns of the time were extremely inefficient.  The Spaniards had steel swords, which the Inca did not, but, even so, the numerical odds were so huge that other things were involved.  Most of these, per Diamond, seem to be cultural rather than technological.

First, the Inca regarded their leader, Atahualpa, almost as a god.  When he was captured, it changed the battle hugely.  Secondly, he got captured because the Inca trusted the Spaniards to do what they said they would do.  Partly, at least, this was due to their lack of contact with other large groups of people.  In addition, very few among the Indians were literate, so they could not read about other cultures, even if they could find books.  Although other Indian tribes had dealt with Europeans, they had not written about it, and, if they had, most of the Incas could not read what they had written.  The Spanish, on the other hand, had not only had a lot of contact with other nations, but saw no reason to deal honorably with the Indians, as the Indians were not Catholic.  Further, they had read about other contacts with native populations.

Originally posted to plf515 on Sun Aug 02, 2009 at 04:05 AM PDT.

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